At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we understand it can be overwhelming for a child and family to live with cancer. Our retinoblastoma experts understand the symptoms and side effects of treatment, including social and psychological aspects of therapies and recovery.
Many children have received treatment at MSK for the same disease as your child. You may find it helpful to speak with other patients or families who have had similar experiences. Please feel free to ask your child’s care team to arrange for you to speak with some former patients and their families.
We also offer a broad range of support programs that help children, family members, and caregivers cope with the range of issues related to life during and after treatment.
Psychosocial Support Team
Cancer can affect children in many ways. At MSK, our pediatric psychosocial care team offers help to our patients and their family members as they deal with a cancer diagnosis, supporting our treatment teams.
Our psychosocial care team includes:
- social workers
- child life specialists
- managers and support staff
- physical and occupational therapists
- integrative medicine specialists
- patient service coordinators
- patient representatives
In addition to our work with other experts at MSK, we also enlist the support of outside agencies, programs, and organizations to meet the needs of our families.
The Department of Pediatrics at MSK makes our school program a high priority. As one of 40 hospitals participating in a New York City Department of Education program called Hospital Schools, we have several full-time teachers who play an active role in educating our pediatric patients.
Our teachers, employed by the New York City Board of Education, help children and teens undergoing cancer treatment keep up with their studies and prepare for exams. We work closely with each child’s school and/or home instructor to enable a student to return to class after treatment with little or no loss of educational standing, and to prepare for required tests, including New York State Regents exams, SATs, and GEDs.
Child Life Services
The goal of our Child Life Program is to help young patients and their families cope with and adjust to treatment. Child life specialists are trained professionals who are experts in human growth and development. We have a variety of backgrounds and interests, including education, psychology, fine arts, and art therapy. We combine our skills to create child life services that educate and empower patients and family members throughout an illness.
Our programming gives patients the chance to do many of the usual activities that children, adolescents, and young adults enjoy. We offer a range of age-appropriate activities daily in the Pediatric Day Hospital and the Inpatient Unit. These provide our patients and their siblings with social environments and supportive ways to spend time in the hospital.
Physical and Occupational Therapy
Our child and young adult patients may also benefit from the therapies offered by our Integrative Medicine Service, which supports mainstream medical care by addressing the physical and emotional symptoms of cancer and its treatment. We offer music therapy, mind/body therapies, dance and movement therapy, yoga, and other services for our inpatients and outpatients in groups or at the bedside.